Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Manon Lescaut by the Abbe Prevost

Part 2 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

see me now take a course so different from what he had
anticipated. He had not a particle of courage, of which indeed I
have, in the sequel of my story, abundant proof. `Yes, yes,' he
quickly answered, `it is good service I have rendered you, and
you will find that we shall derive infinitely more advantage from
it than you now expect.' We consulted then as to the best mode
of preventing the suspicions which G---- M---- might entertain of
our relationship, when he found me older and of riper manhood
than he probably imagined. The only plan we could hit upon was
to assume in his presence an innocent and provincial air, and to
persuade him that it was my intention to enter the Church, and
that with that view I was obliged to go every day to the college.
We also determined that I should appear as awkward as I possibly
could the first time I was admitted to the honour of an

"He returned to town three or four days after, and at once
conducted Manon to the house which his steward had in the
meantime prepared. She immediately apprised Lescaut of her
return, and he having informed me, we went together to her new
abode. The old lover had already gone out.

"In spite of the submission with which I had resigned myself to
her wishes, I could not, at our meeting, repress the compunctious
visitings of my conscience. I appeared before her grieved and
dejected. The joy I felt at seeing her once more could not
altogether dispel my sorrow for her infidelity: she, on the
contrary, appeared transported with the pleasure of seeing me.
She accused me of coldness. I could not help muttering the words
perfidious and unfaithful, though they were profusely mixed with

"At first she laughed at me for my simplicity; but when she
found that I continued to look at her with an unchanging
expression of melancholy, and that I could not bring myself to
enter with alacrity into a scene so repugnant to all my feelings,
she went alone into her boudoir. I very soon followed her, and
then I found her in a flood of tears. I asked the cause of her
sorrow. `You can easily understand it,' said she; `how can you
wish me to live, if my presence can no longer have any other
effect than to give you an air of sadness and chagrin? Not one
kiss have you given me during the long hour you have been in the
house, while you have received my caresses with the dignified
indifference of a Grand Turk, receiving the forced homage of the
Sultanas of his harem.'

"`Hearken to me, Manon,' said I, embracing her; `I cannot
conceal from you that my heart is bitterly afflicted. I do not
now allude to the uneasiness your sudden flight caused me, nor to
the unkindness of quitting me without a word of consolation,
after having passed the night away from me. The pleasure of
seeing you again would more than compensate for all; but do you
imagine that I can reflect without sighs and tears upon the
degrading and unhappy life which you now wish me to lead in this
house? Say nothing of my birth, or of my feelings of honour;
love like mine derives no aid from arguments of that feeble
nature; but do you imagine that I can without emotion see my love
so badly recompensed, or rather so cruelly treated, by an
ungrateful and unfeeling mistress?'

"She interrupted me. `Stop, chevalier,' said she, `it is useless
to torture me with reproaches, which, coming from you, always
pierce my heart. I see what annoys you. I had hoped that you
would have agreed to the project which I had devised for mending
our shattered fortunes, and it was from a feeling of delicacy to
you that I began the execution of it without your assistance; but
I give it up since it does not meet your approbation.' She added
that she would now merely request a little patient forbearance
during the remainder of the day; that she had already received
five hundred crowns from the old gentleman, and that he had
promised to bring her that evening a magnificent pearl necklace
with other jewels, and, in advance, half of the yearly pension he
had engaged to allow her. `Leave me only time enough,' said she
to me, to get possession of these presents; I promise you that he
will have little to boast of from his connection with me, for in
the country I repulsed all his advances, putting him off till our
return to town. It is true that he has kissed my hand a thousand
times over, and it is but just that he should pay for even this
amusement: I am sure that, considering his riches as well as his
age, five or six thousand francs is not an unreasonable price!'

"Her determination was of more value in my eyes than twenty
thousand crowns. I could feel that I was not yet bereft of every
sentiment of honour, by the satisfaction I experienced at
escaping thus from infamy, But I was born for brief joys, and
miseries of long duration. Fate never rescued me from one
precipice, but to lead me to another. When I had expressed my
delight to Manon at this change in her intentions, I told her she
had better inform Lescaut of it, in order that we might take our
measures in concert. At first he murmured, but the money in hand
induced him to enter into our views. It was then determined that
we should all meet at G---- M----'s supper table, and that, for
two reasons: first, for the amusement of passing me off as a
schoolboy, and brother to Manon; and secondly, to prevent the old
profligate from taking any liberties with his mistress, on the
strength of his liberal payments in advance. Lescaut and I were
to retire, when he went to the room where he expected to pass the
night; and Manon, instead of following him, promised to come out,
and join us. Lescaut undertook to have a coach waiting at the

"The supper hour having arrived, M. G---- M---- made his
appearance. Already Lescaut was with his sister in the supper
room. The moment the lover entered, he presented his fair one
with a complete set of pearls, necklaces, ear-rings, and
bracelets, which must have cost at least a thousand crowns. He
then placed on the table before her, in louis d'or, two thousand
four hundred francs, the half of her year's allowance. He
seasoned his present with many pretty speeches in the true style
of the old court. Manon could not refuse him a few kisses: it
was sealing her right to the money which he had just handed to
her. I was at the door, and waiting for Lescaut's signal to
enter the room.

"He approached to take me by the hand, while Manon was securing
the money and jewels, and leading me towards M. G---- M----, he
desired me to make my bow. I made two or three most profound
ones. `Pray excuse him, sir,' said Lescaut, `he is a mere child.
He has not yet acquired much of the ton of Paris; but no doubt
with a little trouble we shall improve him. You will often have
the honour of seeing that gentleman, here,' said he, turning
towards me : `take advantage of it, and endeavour to imitate so
good a model.'

"The old libertine appeared to be pleased with me. He patted me
on the cheek, saying that I was a fine boy, but that I should be
on my guard in Paris, where young men were easily debauched.
Lescaut assured him that I was naturally of so grave a character
that I thought of nothing but becoming a clergyman, and that,
even as a child, my favourite amusement was building little
chapels. `I fancy a likeness to Manon,' said the old gentleman,
putting his hand under my chin. I answered him, with the most
simple air-- `Sir, the fact is, that we are very closely
connected, and I love my sister as another portion of myself.'
`Do you hear that,' said he to Lescaut; `he is indeed a clever
boy! It is a pity he should not see something of the world.'
`Oh, sir,' I replied, `I have seen a great deal of it at home,
attending church, and I believe I might find in Paris some
greater fools than myself.' `Listen I said he; `it is positively
wonderful in a boy from the country.'

"The whole conversation during supper was of the same kind.
Manon, with her usual gaiety, was several times on the point of
spoiling the joke by her bursts of laughter. I contrived, while
eating, to recount his own identical history, and to paint even
the fate that awaited him. Lescaut and Manon were in an agony of
fear during my recital, especially while I was drawing his
portrait to the life: but his own vanity prevented him from
recognising it, and I did it so well that he was the first to
pronounce it extremely laughable. You will allow that I had
reason for dwelling on this ridiculous scene.

At length it was time to retire. He hinted at the impatience of
love. Lescaut and I took our departure. G---- M---- went to his
room, and Manon, making some excuse for her absence, came to join
us at the gate. The coach, that was waiting for us a few doors
off, drove up towards us, and we were out of the street in an

"Although I must confess that this proceeding appeared to me
little short of actual robbery, it was not the most dishonest one
with which I thought I had to reproach myself. I had more
scruples about the money which I had won at play. However, we
derived as little advantage from one as from the other; and
Heaven sometimes ordains that the lightest fault shall meet the
severest punishment.

"M. G---- M---- was not long in finding out that he had been
duped. I am not sure whether he took any steps that night to
discover us, but he had influence enough to ensure an effectual
pursuit, and we were sufficiently imprudent to rely upon the
extent of Paris and the distance between our residence and his.
Not only did he discover our abode and our circumstances, but
also who I was--the life that I had led in Paris--Manon's former
connection with B----,--the manner in which she had deceived him:
in a word, all the scandalous facts of our history. He therefore
resolved to have us apprehended, and treated less as criminals
than as vagabonds. An officer came abruptly one morning into our
bedroom, with half a dozen archers of the guard. They first took
possession of our money, or I should rather say, of G----M----'s.
They made us quickly get up, and conducted us to the door,
where we found two coaches, into one of which they forced
poor Manon, without any explanation, and I was taken in the
other to St. Lazare.

One must have experienced this kind of reverse, to understand the
despair that is caused by it. The police were savage enough to
deny me the consolation of embracing Manon, or of bidding her
farewell. I remained for a long time ignorant of her fate. It
was perhaps fortunate for me that I was kept in a state of
ignorance, for had I known what she suffered, I should have lost
my senses, probably my life.

"My unhappy mistress was dragged then from my presence, and
taken to a place the very name of which fills me with horror to
remember. This to be the lot of a creature the most perfect, who
must have shared the most splendid throne on earth, if other men
had only seen and felt as I did! She was not treated harshly
there, but was shut up in a narrow prison, and obliged, in
solitary confinement, to perform a certain quantity of work each
day, as a necessary condition for obtaining the most unpalatable
food. I did not learn this till a long time after, when I had
myself endured some months of rough and cruel treatment.

"My guards not having told me where it was that they had been
ordered to conduct me, it was only on my arrival at St. Lazare
that I learned my destination. I would have preferred death, at
that moment, to the state into which I believed myself about to
be thrown. I had the utmost terror of this place. My misery was
increased by the guards on my entrance, examining once more my
pockets, to ascertain whether I had about me any arms or weapons
of defence.

"The governor appeared. He had been informed of my
apprehension. He saluted me with great mildness. `Do not, my
good sir,' said I to him, `allow me to be treated with indignity.
I would suffer a hundred deaths rather than quietly submit to
degrading treatment.' `No, no,' he replied, `you will act
quietly and prudently, and we shall be mutually content with each
other.' He begged of me to ascend to one of the highest rooms; I
followed him without a murmur. The archers accompanied us to the
door, and the governor, entering the room, made a sign for them
to depart. `I am your prisoner, I suppose?' said I; `well, what
do you intend to do with me?' He said, he was delighted to see
me adopt so reasonable a tone; that it would be his duty to
endeavour to inspire me with a taste for virtue and religion, and
mine to profit by his exhortations and advice: that lightly as I
might be disposed to rate his attentions to me, I should find
nothing but enjoyment in my solitude. `Ah, enjoyment, indeed!'
replied I; "you do not know, my good sir, the only thing on
earth that could afford me enjoyment.' `I know it,' said he,
`but I trust your inclinations will change.' His answer showed
that he had heard of my adventures, and perhaps of my name. I
begged to know if such were the fact. He told me candidly that
they had informed him of every particular.

"This blow was the severest of any I had yet experienced. I
literally shed a torrent of tears, in all the bitterness of
unmixed despair; I could not reconcile myself to the humiliation
which would make me a proverb to all my acquaintances, and the
disgrace of my family. I passed a week in the most profound
dejection, without being capable of gaining any information, or
of occupying myself with anything but my own degradation. The
remembrance even of Manon added nothing to my grief; it only
occurred to me as a circumstance that had preceded my new sorrow;
and the sense of shame and confusion was at present the
all-absorbing passion.

"There are few persons who have experienced the force of these
special workings of the mind. The generality of men are only
sensible of five or six passions, in the limited round of which
they pass their lives, and within which all their agitations are
confined. Remove them from the influence of love and hate,
pleasure and pain, hope and fear, and they have no further
feeling. But persons of a finer cast can be affected in a
thousand different ways; it would almost seem that they had more
than five senses, and that they are accessible to ideas and
sensations which far exceed the ordinary faculties of human
nature; and, conscious that they possess a capacity which raises
them above the common herd, there is nothing of which they are
more jealous. Hence springs their impatience under contempt and
ridicule; and hence it is that a sense of debasement is perhaps
the most violent of all their emotions.

"I had this melancholy advantage at St. Lazare. My grief
appeared to the governor so excessive, that, dreading the
consequences, he thought he was bound to treat me with more
mildness and indulgence. He visited me two or three times a day;
he often made me take a turn with him in the garden, and showed
his interest for me in his exhortations and good advice. I
listened always attentively; and warmly expressed my sense of his
kindness, from which he derived hopes of my ultimate conversion.

"`You appear to me,' said he one day, `of a disposition so mild
and tractable, that I cannot comprehend the excesses into which
you have fallen. Two things astonish me: one is, how, with your
good qualities, you could have ever abandoned yourself to vice;
and the other, which amazes me still more, is, how you can
receive with such perfect temper my advice and instructions,
after having lived so long in a course of debauchery. If it be
sincere repentance, you present a singular example of the benign
mercy of Heaven; if it proceed from the natural goodness of your
disposition, then you certainly have that within you which
warrants the hope that a protracted residence in this place will
not be required to bring you back to a regular and respectable

"I was delighted to find that he had such an opinion of me. I
resolved to strengthen it by a continuance of good conduct,
convinced that it was the surest means of abridging the term of
my confinement. I begged of him to furnish me with books. He
was agreeably surprised to find that when he requested me to say
what I should prefer, I mentioned only some religious and
instructive works. I pretended to devote myself assiduously to
study, and I thus gave him convincing proof of the moral
reformation he was so anxious to bring about. It was nothing,
however, but rank hypocrisy--I blush to confess it. Instead of
studying, when alone I did nothing but curse my destiny. I
lavished the bitterest execrations on my prison, and the tyrants
who detained me there. If I ceased for a moment from these
lamentations, it was only to relapse into the tormenting
remembrance of my fatal and unhappy love. Manon's absence--the
mystery in which her fate was veiled--the dread of never again
beholding her; these formed the subject of my melancholy
thoughts. I fancied her in the arms of G---- M----. Far from
imagining that he could have been brute enough to subject her to
the same treatment to which I was condemned, I felt persuaded
that he had only procured my removal, in order that he might
possess her in undisturbed enjoyment.

"Oh! how miserable were the days and nights I thus passed! They
seemed to be of endless duration. My only hope of escape now,
was in hypocrisy; I scrutinised the countenance, and carefully
marked every observation that fell from the governor, in order to
ascertain what he really thought of me; and looking on him as the
sole arbiter of my future fate, I made it my study to win, if
possible, his favour. I soon had the satisfaction to find that I
was firmly established in his good graces, and no longer doubted
his disposition to befriend me.

"I, one day, ventured to ask him whether my liberation depended
on him. He replied that it was not altogether in his hands, but
that he had no doubt that on his representation M. G---- M----,
at whose instance the lieutenant-general of police had ordered me
to be confined, would consent to my being set at liberty. `May I
flatter myself,' rejoined I, in the mildest tone, `that he will
consider two months, which I have now spent in this prison, as a
sufficient atonement?' He offered to speak to him, if I wished
it. I implored him without delay to do me that favour.

"He told me two days afterwards that G---- M---- was so sensibly
affected by what he had heard, that he not only was ready to
consent to my liberation, but that he had even expressed a strong
desire to become better acquainted with me, and that he himself
purposed to pay me a visit in prison. Although his presence
could not afford me much pleasure, I looked upon it as a certain
prelude to my liberation.

"He accordingly came to St. Lazare. I met him with an air more
grave and certainly less silly than I had exhibited at his house
with Manon. He spoke reasonably enough of my former bad conduct.
He added, as if to excuse his own delinquencies, that it was
graciously permitted to the weakness of man to indulge in certain
pleasures, almost, indeed, prompted by nature, but that
dishonesty and such shameful practices ought to be, and always
would be, inexorably punished.

"I listened to all he said with an air of submission, which
quite charmed him. I betrayed no symptoms of annoyance even at
some jokes in which he indulged about my relationship with Manon
and Lescaut, and about the little chapels of which he supposed I
must have had time to erect a great many in St. Lazare, as I was
so fond of that occupation. But he happened, unluckily both for
me and for himself, to add, that he hoped Manon had also employed
herself in the same edifying manner at the Magdalen.
Notwithstanding the thrill of horror I felt at the sound of the
name, I had still presence of mind enough to beg, in the gentlest
manner, that he would explain himself. `Oh! yes,' he replied,
`she has been these last two months at the Magdalen learning to
be prudent, and I trust she has improved herself as much there,
as you have done at St. Lazare!'

"If an eternal imprisonment, or death itself, had been presented
to my view, I could not have restrained the excitement into which
this afflicting announcement threw me. I flung myself upon him
in so violent a rage that half my strength was exhausted by the
effort. I had, however, more than enough left to drag him to the
ground, and grasp him by the throat. I should infallibly have
strangled him, if his fall, and the half-stifled cries which he
had still the power to utter, had not attracted the governor and
several of the priests to my room. They rescued him from my

"I was, myself, breathless and almost impotent from rage. `Oh
God!' I cried--`Heavenly justice! Must I survive this infamy?'
I tried again to seize the barbarian who had thus roused my
indignation--they prevented me. My despair--my cries--my tears,
exceeded all belief: I raved in so incoherent a manner that all
the bystanders, who were ignorant of the cause, looked at each
other with as much dread as surprise.

"G---- M---- in the meantime adjusted his wig and cravat, and in
his anger at having been so ill-treated, ordered me to be kept
under more severe restraint than before, and to be punished in
the manner usual with offenders in St. Lazare. `No, sir!' said
the governor, `it is not with a person of his birth that we are
in the habit of using such means of coercion; besides, he is
habitually so mild and well-conducted, that I cannot but think
you must have given provocation for such excessive violence.'
This reply disconcerted G---- M---- beyond measure and he went
away, declaring that he knew how to be revenged on the governor,
as well as on me, and everyone else who dared to thwart him.

"The Superior, having ordered some of the brotherhood to escort
him out of the prison, remained alone with me. He conjured me to
tell him at once what was the cause of the fracas.--`Oh, my good
sir!' said I to him, continuing to cry like a child, `imagine the
most horrible cruelty, figure to yourself the most inhuman of
atrocities--that is what G---- M---- has had the cowardly
baseness to perpetrate: he has pierced my heart. Never shall I
recover from this blow! I would gladly tell you the whole
circumstance,' added I, sobbing with grief; `you are
kind-hearted, and cannot fail to pity me.'

"I gave him, as briefly as I could, a history of my
long-standing and insurmountable passion for Manon, of the
flourishing condition of our fortunes previous to the robbery
committed by our servants, of the offers which G---- M---- had
made to my mistress, of the understanding they had come to, and
the manner in which it had been defeated. To be sure, I
represented things to him in as favourable a light for us as
possible. `Now you can comprehend,' continued I, `the source of
M. G---- M----'s holy zeal for my conversion. He has had
influence enough to have me shut up here, out of mere revenge.
That I can pardon; but, my good sir, that is not all. He has
taken from me my heart's blood: he has had Manon shamefully
incarcerated in the Magdalen; and had the effrontery to announce
it to me this day with his own lips. In the Magdalen, good sir!
Oh heavens! my adorable mistress, my beloved Manon, a degraded
inmate of the Hospital! How shall I command strength of mind
enough to survive this grief and shame!'

"The good Father, seeing me in such affliction, endeavoured to
console me. He told me that he had never understood my history,
as I just now related it; he had of course known that I led a
dissolute life, but he had imagined that M. G---- M----'s
interest about me was the result of his esteem and friendship for
my family; that it was in this sense he had explained the matter
to him; that what I had now told him should assuredly produce a
change in my treatment, and that he had no doubt but the accurate
detail which he should immediately transmit to the
lieutenant-general of police would bring about my liberation.

"He then enquired why I had never thought of informing my family
of what had taken place, since they had not been instrumental to
my incarceration. I satisfactorily answered this by stating my
unwillingness to cause my father pain, or to bring upon myself
the humiliation of such an exposure. In the end, he promised to
go directly to the lieutenant-general of police if it were only,
said he, to be beforehand with M. G---- M----, who went off in
such a rage, and who had sufficient influence to make himself

"I looked for the good Father's return with all the suspense of
a man expecting sentence of death. It was torture to me to think
of Manon at the Magdalen. Besides the infamy of such a prison, I
knew not how she might be treated there; and the recollection of
some particulars I had formerly heard of this horrible place,
incessantly renewed my misery. Cost what it might, I was so bent
upon relieving her by some means or other, that I should
assuredly have set fire to St. Lazare, if no other mode of escape
had presented itself.

"I considered what chances would remain to me if the lieutenant-
general still kept me in confinement. I taxed my ingenuity: I
scanned every imaginable gleam of hope--I could discover nothing
that gave me any prospect of escape, and I feared that I should
experience only more rigid confinement, if I made an unsuccessful
attempt. I thought of some friends from whom I might hope for
aid, but then, how was I to make them aware of my situation? At
length I fancied that I had hit upon a plan so ingenious, as to
offer a fair probability of success. I postponed the details of
its arrangement until after the Superior's return, in case of his
having failed in the object of his visit.

"He soon arrived: I did not observe upon his countenance any of
those marks of joy that indicate good news. `I have spoken,'
said he, `to the lieutenant-general of police, but I was too
late, M. G---- M---- went straight to him after quitting us, and
so prejudiced him against you, that he was on the point of
sending me fresh instructions to subject you to closer

"`However, when I let him know the truth of your story, he
reconsidered the matter, and, smiling at the incontinence of old
G---- M----, he said it would be necessary to keep you here for
six months longer, in order to pacify him; the less to be
lamented,' he added, `because your morals would be sure to
benefit by your residence here. He desired that I would show you
every kindness and attention, and I need not assure you that you
shall have no reason to complain of your treatment.'

"This speech of the Superior's was long enough to afford me time
to form a prudent resolution. I saw that by betraying too strong
an impatience for my liberty, I should probably be upsetting all
my projects. I acknowledged to him, that, as it was necessary to
me to remain, it was an infinite comfort to know that I possessed
a place in his esteem. I then requested, and with unaffected
sincerity, a favour, which could be of no consequence to others,
and which would contribute much to my peace of mind; it was to
inform a friend of mine, a devout clergyman, who lived at St.
Sulpice, that I was at St. Lazare, and to permit me occasionally
to receive his visits.

"This was of course my friend Tiberge; not that I could hope
from him the assistance necessary for effecting my liberty; but I
wished to make him the unconscious instrument of my designs. In
a word, this was my project: I wished to write to Lescaut, and to
charge him and our common friends with the task of my
deliverance. The first difficulty was to have my letter conveyed
to him: this should be Tiberge's office. However, as he knew him
to be Manon's brother, I doubted whether he would take charge of
this commission. My plan was to enclose my letter to Lescaut in
another to some respectable man of my acquaintance, begging of
him to transmit the first to its address without delay; and as it
was necessary that I should have personal communication with
Lescaut, in order to arrange our proceedings, I told him to call
on me at St. Lazare, and assume the name of my eldest brother, as
if he had come to Paris expressly to see me. I postponed till
our meeting all mention of the safest and most expeditious course
I intended to suggest for our future conduct. The governor
informed Tiberge of my wish to see him. This ever-faithful
friend had not so entirely lost sight of me as to be ignorant of
my present abode, and it is probable that, in his heart, he did
not regret the circumstance, from an idea that it might furnish
the means of my moral regeneration. He lost no time in paying me
the desired visit.


It is a strange thing to note the excess of this passion;
and how it braves the nature and value of things, by this--
that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing
but in love.--BACON.

"My interview with Tiberge was of the most friendly description.
I saw that his object was to discover the present temper of my
mind. I opened my heart to him without any reserve, except as to
the mere point of my intention of escaping. `It is not from such
a friend as you,' said I, `that I can ever wish to dissemble my
real feelings. If you flattered yourself with a hope that you
were at last about to find me grown prudent and regular in my
conduct, a libertine reclaimed by the chastisements of fortune,
released alike from the trammels of love, and the dominion that
Manon wields over me, I must in candour say, that you deceive
yourself. You still behold me, as you left me four months ago,
the slave--if you will, the unhappy slave--of a passion, from
which I now hope, as fervently and as confidently as I ever did,
to derive eventually solid comfort.'

"He answered, that such an acknowledgment rendered me utterly
inexcusable; that it was no uncommon case to meet sinners who
allowed themselves to be so dazzled with the glare of vice as to
prefer it openly to the true splendour of virtue; they were at
least deluded by the false image of happiness, the poor dupes of
an empty shadow; but the know and feel as I did, that the object
of my attachment was only calculated to render me culpable and
unhappy, and to continue thus voluntarily in a career of misery
and crime, involved a contradiction of ideas and of conduct
little creditable to my reason.

"`Tiberge,' replied I, `it is easy to triumph when your
arguments are unopposed. Allow me to reason for a few moments in
my turn. Can you pretend that what you call the happiness of
virtue is exempt from troubles, and crosses, and cares? By what
name will you designate the dungeon, the rack, the inflections
and tortures of tyrants? Will you say with the Mystics[1] that
the soul derives pleasure from the torments of the body? You are
not bold enough to hold such a doctrine--a paradox not to be
maintained. This happiness, then, that you prize so much, has a
thousand drawbacks, or is, more properly speaking, but a tissue
of sufferings through which one hopes to attain felicity. If by
the power of imagination one can even derive pleasure from these
sufferings, hoping that they may lead to a happy end, why, let me
ask, do you deem my conduct senseless, when it is directed by
precisely the same principle? I love Manon: I wade through
sorrow and suffering in order to attain happiness with her. My
path is one indeed of difficulties, but the mere hope of reaching
the desired goal makes it easy and delightful; and I shall think
myself but too bountifully repaid by one moment of her society,
for all the troubles I encounter in my course. There appears
therefore no difference between us, or, if there be any, it is
assuredly in my favour; for the bliss I hope for is near and
tangible, yours is far distant, and purely speculative. Mine is
of the same kind as my sufferings, that is to say, evident to my
senses; yours is of an incomprehensible nature, and only
discernible through the dim medium of faith.'

[1] A favourite tenet of the Mystics, advocated by Madame de
Guyon, and adopted by the amiable and eloquent Fenelon, was, that
the love of the Supreme Being must be pure and disinterested;
that is, exempt from all views of interest, and all hope of
reward. See the controversy between Bossuet and Fenelon.

"Tiberge appeared shocked by my remarks. He retired two or
three paces from me, while he said, in the most serious tone,
that my argument was not only a violation of good sense, but that
it was the miserable sophistry of irreligion; `for the
comparison,' he added, `of the pitiful reward of your sufferings
with that held out to us by the divine revelation, is the essence
of impiety and absurdity combined.'

"`I acknowledge,' said I, `that the comparison is not a just
one, but my argument does not at all depend upon it. I was about
to explain what you consider a contradiction--the persevering in
a painful pursuit; and I think I have satisfactorily proved, that
if there be any contradiction in that, we shall be both equally
obnoxious to the charge. It was in this light, only, that I
could observe no difference in our cases, and I cannot as yet
perceive any.

"`You may probably answer, that the proposed end, the promised
reward, of virtue, is infinitely superior to that of love? No
one disputes it, but that is not the question--we are only
discussing the relative aid they both afford in the endurance of
affliction. Judge of that by the practical effect: are there not
multitudes who abandon a life of strict virtue? how few give up
the pursuits of love!

"`Again, you will reply that if there be difficulties in the
exercise of virtue, they are by no means universal and sure; that
the good man does not necessarily meet tyrants and tortures, and
that, on the contrary, a life of virtue is perfectly compatible
with repose and enjoyment. I can say with equal truth, that love
is often accompanied by content and happiness; and what makes
another distinction of infinite advantage to my argument, I may
add that love, though it often deludes, never holds out other
than hopes of bliss and joy, whilst religion exacts from her
votaries mortification and sorrow.

"`Do not be alarmed,' said I, perceiving that I had almost
offended his zealous feelings of devotion. `I only wish to say,
that there is no more unsuccessful method of weaning man's heart
from love, than by endeavouring to decry its enjoyments, and by
promising him more pleasure from the exercise of virtue. It is
an inherent principle in our nature, that our felicity consists
only in pleasure. I defy you to conceive any other notion of it;
and it requires little time to arrive at the conviction, that, of
all pleasures, those of love are immeasurably the most
enchanting. A man quickly discerns the delusion, when he hears
the promise made of livelier enjoyment, and the effect of such
misrepresentation is only to make him doubt the truth of a more
solid promise.

"`Let the preacher who seeks the reformation of a sinner tell
me that virtue is indispensably necessary, but not disguise its
difficulty and its attendant denials. Say that the enjoyments of
love are fleeting, if you will, that they are rigidly forbidden,
that they lead with certainty to eternal suffering; and, what
would assuredly make a deeper impression upon me than any other
argument, say that the more sweet and delectable they are, the
brighter will be the reward of Heaven for giving them up in
sacrifice; but do in the name of justice admit, that, constituted
as the heart of man is, they form here, on earth, our most
perfect happiness.'

"My last sentence restored to Tiberge his good humour. He
allowed that my ideas were not altogether so unreasonable. The
only point he made, was in asking me why I did not carry my own
principle into operation, by sacrificing my passion to the hope
of that remuneration of which I had drawn so brilliant a picture.
`Oh! my dear friend,' replied I; `that it is which makes me
conscious of my own misery and weakness: true, alas! it is indeed
my duty to act according to my argument; but have I the power of
governing my own actions? What aid will enable me to forget
Manon's charms?' 'God forgive me,' said Tiberge, `I can almost
fancy you a Jansenist[1]. `I know not of what sect I am,'
replied I, `nor do I indeed very clearly see to which I ought to
belong; but I cannot help feeling the truth of this at least of
their tenets.'

[1] The first proposition of the Jansenists was, that there are
divine precepts which good men, notwithstanding their desire to
observe them, are nevertheless absolutely unable to obey: God not
having given them such a measure of grace as is essentially
necessary to render them capable of obedience.--Mosheim's Eccles.
Hist., ii. 397.

"One effect of our conversation was to revive my friend's pity
for me in all its force. He perceived that there was in my
errors more of weakness than of vice; and he was the more
disposed in the end to give me assistance; without which I should
infallibly have perished from distress of mind. However, I
carefully concealed from him my intention of escaping from St.
Lazare. I merely begged of him to take charge of my letter; I
had it ready before he came, and I soon found an excuse for the
necessity of writing. He faithfully transmitted it, and Lescaut
received before evening the one I had enclosed for him.

"He came to see me next morning, and fortunately was admitted
under my brother's name. I was overjoyed at finding him in my
room. I carefully closed the door. `Let us lose no time,' I
said. `First tell me about Manon, and then advise me how I am to
shake off these fetters.' He assured me that he had not seen his
sister since the day before my arrest, and that it was only by
repeated enquiries, and after much trouble, that he had at length
been able to discover her fate as well as mine; and that he had
two or three times presented himself at the Magdalen, and been
refused admittance. `Wretch!' muttered I to myself, `dearly
shall G---- M---- pay for this!'

`As to your escape,' continued Lescaut, `it will not be so easy
as you imagine. Last evening, I and a couple of friends walked
round this establishment to reconnoitre it; and we agreed that,
as your windows looked into a court surrounded by buildings, as
you yourself mentioned in your letter, there would be vast
difficulty in getting you out. Besides, you are on the third
story, and it would be impossible to introduce ropes or ladders
through the window. I therefore see no means from without--in
the house itself we must hit upon some scheme.'

"`No,' replied I; `I have examined everything minutely,
particularly since, through the governor's indulgence, my
confinement has been less rigorous. I am no longer locked into
my room; I have liberty to walk in the gallery; but there is,
upon every landing, a strong door kept closed night and day, so
that it is impossible that ingenuity alone, unaided by some
violent efforts, can rescue me.

"`Wait,' said I, after turning in my mind for a moment an idea
that struck me as excellent; `could you bring me a pistol?'
`Softly,' said Lescaut to me, `you don't think of committing
murder?' I assured him that I had so little intention of
shooting anyone, that it would not be even necessary to have the
pistol loaded. `Bring it to me tomorrow,' I added, `and do not
fail to be exactly opposite the great entrance with two or three
of your friends at eleven tomorrow night; I think I shall be able
to join you there.' He in vain requested me to explain my plan.
I told him that such an attempt as I contemplated could only
appear rational after it had succeeded. I begged of him to
shorten his visit, in order that he might with the less
difficulty be admitted next morning. He was accordingly admitted
as readily as on his first visit. He had put on so serious an
air, moreover, that a stranger would have taken him for a
respectable person.

"When I found in my hand the instrument of my liberty, I no
longer doubted my success. It was certainly a strange and a bold
project; but of what was I not capable, with the motives that
inspired me? I had, since I was allowed permission to walk in
the galleries, found opportunities of observing that every night
the porter brought the keys of all the doors to the governor, and
subsequently there always reigned a profound silence in the
house, which showed that the inmates had retired to rest. There
was an open communication between my room and that of the
Superior. My resolution was, if he refused quietly to surrender
the keys, to force him, by fear of the pistol, to deliver them
up, and then by their help to gain the street. I impatiently
awaited the moment for executing my purpose. The porter arrived
at his usual time, that is to say, soon after nine o'clock. I
allowed an hour to elapse, in order that the priests as well as
the servants might be all asleep. I at length proceeded with my
pistol and a lighted candle. I first gave a gentle tap at the
governor's door to awaken without alarming him. I knocked a
second time before he heard me; and supposing of course that it
was one of the priests who was taken ill and wanted assistance,
he got out of bed, dressed himself, and came to the door. He
had, however, the precaution to ask first who it was, and what
was wanted? I was obliged to mention my name, but I assumed a
plaintive tone, to make him believe that I was indisposed. `Ah!
it is you, my dear boy,' said he on opening the door; `what can
bring you here at this hour?' I stepped inside the door, and
leading him to the opposite side of the room, I declared to him
that it was absolutely impossible for me to remain longer at St.
Lazare; that the night was the most favourable time for going out
unobserved, and that I confidently expected, from his tried
friendship, that he would consent to open the gates for me, or
entrust me with the keys to let myself out.

"This compliment to his friendship seemed to surprise him. He
stood for a few moments looking at me without making any reply.
Finding that I had no time to lose, I just begged to assure him
that I had the most lively sense of all his kindnesses, but that
freedom was dearer to man than every other consideration,
especially so to me, who had been cruelly and unjustly deprived
of it; that I was resolved this night to recover it, cost what it
would, and fearing lest he might raise his voice and call for
assistance, I let him see the powerful incentive to silence which
I had kept concealed in my bosom. `A pistol!' cried he. `What!
my son? will you take away my life in return for the attentions I
have shown you?' `God forbid,' replied I; `you are too
reasonable to drive me to that horrible extremity: but I am
determined to be free, and so firmly determined, that if you
defeat my project, I will put an end to your existence.' `But,
my dear son!' said he, pale and frightened, `what have I done to
you? What reason have you for taking my life?' `No!' replied I,
impatiently, `I have no design upon your life, if you, yourself,
wish to live; open but the doors for me, and you will find me the
most attached of friends.' I perceived the keys upon the table.
I requested he would take them in his hand and walk before me,
making as little noise as he possibly could.

"He saw the necessity of consenting. We proceeded, and as he
opened each door, he repeated, always with a sigh, `Ah! my son,
who could have believed it?' `No noise, good Father, no noise,'
I as often answered in my turn. At length we reached a kind of
barrier, just inside the great entrance. I already fancied
myself free, and kept close behind the governor, with my candle
in one hand, and my pistol in the other.

"While he was endeavouring to open the heavy gate, one of the
servants, who slept in an adjoining room, hearing the noise of
the bolts, jumped out of bed, and peeped forth to see what was
passing. The good Father apparently thought him strong enough to
overpower me. He commanded him, most imprudently, to come to his
assistance. He was a powerful ruffian, and threw himself upon me
without an instant's hesitation. There was no time for
parleying--I levelled my pistol and lodged the contents in his
breast! `See, Father, of what mischief you have been the cause,'
said I to my guide; `but that must not prevent us from finishing
our work,' I added, pushing him on towards the last door. He did
not dare refuse to open it. I made my exit in perfect safety,
and, a few paces off, found Lescaut with two friends waiting for
me, according to his promise.

"We removed at once to a distance. Lescaut enquired whether he
had not heard the report of a pistol? `You are to blame,' said
I, `why did you bring it charged?' I, however, could not help
thanking him for having taken this precaution, without which I
doubtless must have continued much longer at St. Lazare. We went
to pass the night at a tavern, where I made up, in some degree,
for the miserable fare which had been doled out to me for nearly
three months. I was very far, however, from tasting perfect
enjoyment; Manon's sufferings were mine. `She must be released,'
said I to my companions: `this was my sole object in desiring my
own liberty. I rely on your aiding me with all your ingenuity;
as for myself, my life shall be devoted to the purpose.'

"Lescaut, who was not deficient in tact, and still less in that
better part of valour called discretion, dwelt upon the necessity
of acting with extreme caution: he said that my escape from St.
Lazare, and the accident that happened on my leaving it, would
assuredly create a sensation; that the lieutenant-general of
police would cause a strict search to be made for me, and it
would be difficult to evade him; in fine, that, unless disposed
to encounter something worse, perhaps, than St. Lazare, it would
be requisite for me to remain concealed for a few days, in order
to give the enemy's zeal time to cool. No doubt this was wise
counsel; but, one should have been wise oneself to have followed
it. Such calculating slowness little suited my passion. The
utmost I could bring myself to promise was, that I would sleep
through the whole of the next day. He locked me in my bedroom,
where I remained patiently until night.

"I employed great part of the time in devising schemes for
relieving Manon. I felt persuaded that her prison was even more
inaccessible than mine had been. Force was out of the question.
Artifice was the only resource; but the goddess of invention
herself could not have told me how to begin. I felt the
impossibility of working in the dark, and therefore postponed the
further consideration of my schemes until I could acquire some
knowledge of the internal arrangements of the Hospital, in which
she was confined.

"As soon as night restored to me my liberty, I begged of Lescaut
to accompany me. We were not long in drawing one of the porters
into conversation; he appeared a reasonable man. I passed for a
stranger who had often with admiration heard talk of the
Hospital, and of the order that reigned within it. I enquired
into the most minute details; and, proceeding from one subject to
another, we at length spoke of the managers, and of these I
begged to know the names and the respective characters. He gave
me such information upon the latter point as at once suggested an
idea which flattered my hopes, and I immediately set about
carrying it into execution.

I asked him (this being a matter essential to my plan) whether
any of the gentlemen had children. He said he could not answer
me with certainty as to all, but as for M. de T----, one of the
principal directors, he knew that he had a son old enough to be
married, and who had come several times to the Hospital with his
father. This was enough for my purpose.

"I immediately put an end to our interview, and, in returning, I
told Lescaut of the plan I had formed. `I have taken it,' said
I, `into my head, that M. de T----, the son, who is rich and of
good family, must have the same taste for pleasure that other
young men of his age generally have. He could hardly be so bad a
friend to the fair sex, nor so absurd as to refuse his services
in an affair of love. I have arranged a plan for interesting him
in favour of Manon. If he is a man of feeling and of right mind,
he will give us his assistance from generosity. If he is not to
be touched by a motive of this kind, he will at least do
something for a handsome girl, if it were only with the hope of
hereafter sharing her favours. I will not defer seeing him,'
added I, `beyond tomorrow. I really feel so elated by this
project, that I derive from it a good omen.'

"Lescaut himself allowed that the idea was not unreasonable, and
that we might fairly entertain a hope of turning it to account.
I passed the night less sorrowfully.

Next morning I dressed as well as, in my present state of
indigence, I could possibly contrive to do; and went in a hackney
coach to the residence of M. de T----. He was surprised at
receiving a visit from a perfect stranger. I augured favourably
from his countenance and the civility of his manner. I explained
my object in the most candid way; and, to excite his feelings as
much as possible, I spoke of my ardent passion and of Manon's
merit, as of two things that were unequalled, except by each
other. He told me, that although he had never seen Manon, he had
heard of her; at least, if the person I was talking of was the
same who had been the mistress of old G---- M----. I conjectured
that he must have heard of the part I had acted in that
transaction, and in order to conciliate him more and more by
treating him with confidence, I told him everything that had
occurred to Manon and myself. `You see, sir,' said I, `that all
that can interest me in life, all that can command my affections,
is in your hands. I have no reserve with you, because I have
been informed of your generous and noble character; and, being of
the same age, I trust I shall find some resemblance in our

"He seemed flattered by this mark of candour and confidence. He
replied in a manner that became a man of the world, and a man of
feeling also, for they are not always synonymous terms. He told
me that he appreciated my visit as a piece of good fortune; that
he considered my friendship as a valuable acquisition, and that
he would endeavour to prove himself worthy of it, by the
sincerity of his services. He could not absolutely promise to
restore Manon to my arms, because, as he said, he himself had
very little influence; but he offered to procure me the pleasure
of seeing her, and to do everything in his power to effect her
release. I was the more satisfied with this frank avowal as to
his want of influence, than I should have been by an unqualified
promise of fulfilling all my wishes. I found in his moderation a
pledge of his sincerity: in a word, I no longer doubted my entire
success. The promise alone of enabling me to see Manon filled me
with gratitude, and I testified it in so earnest a manner, as to
give him a favourable opinion of my heart and disposition; we
shook hands warmly, and parted sworn friends, merely from mutual
regard, and that natural feeling which prompts a man of kind and
generous sentiments to esteem another of congenial mind.

"He, indeed, exceeded me in the proofs of his esteem; for,
inferring from my adventures, and especially my late escape from
St. Lazare, that I might be in want of money, he offered me his
purse, and pressed me to accept it. I refused, but said to him,
`You are too kind, my dear sir! If in addition to such proofs of
kindness and friendship, you enable me to see Manon again, rely
on my eternal regard and gratitude. If you succeed in restoring
altogether this dear creature to my arms, I should think myself
happy in spilling the last drop of my blood in your service.'

"Before we parted, we agreed as to the time and place for our
meeting. He was so considerate as to appoint the afternoon of
the same day.

"I waited for him at a cafe, where he joined me about four
o'clock, and we went together towards the Magdalen; my knees
trembled under me as I crossed the courts. `Ye heavenly powers!'
said I, `then I shall once more behold the idol of my heart--the
dear object of so many sighs and lamentations! All I now ask of
Providence is, to vouchsafe me strength enough to reach her
presence, and after that, to dispose as it pleaseth of my future
fate, and of my life itself. Beyond this, I have no prayer to

"M. de T---- spoke to some of the porters of the establishment,
who appeared all anxious to please him. The quarter in which
Manon's room lay was pointed out to us, and our guide carried in
his hand the key of her chamber: it was of frightful size. I
asked the man who conducted us, and whose duty it was to attend
to Manon, how she passed her time? He said, that she had a
temper of the most angelic sweetness; that even he, disagreeable
as his official duties must render him, had never heard from her
a single syllable in the nature of rebuke or harshness; that her
tears had never ceased to flow during the first six weeks after
her arrival, but that latterly she seemed to bear her misfortunes
with more resignation, and that she employed herself from morning
till night with her needle, excepting some hours that she, each
day, devoted to reading. I asked whether she had been decently
provided for. He assured me that at least she had never felt the
want of necessaries.

"We now approached her door. My heart. beat almost audibly in
my bosom. I said to M. de T----, `Go in alone, and prepare her
for my visit; I fear that she may be overcome by seeing me
unexpectedly.' The door was opened. I remained in the passage,
and listened to the conversation. He said that he came to bring
her consolation; that he was a friend of mine, and felt deeply
interested for the happiness of us both. She asked with the
tenderest anxiety, whether he could tell her what had become of
me. He promised that she should soon see me at her feet, as
affectionate and as faithful as ever. `When?' she asked. `This
very day,' said he; `the happy moment shall not be long delayed;
nay, this very instant even, if you wish it.' She at once
understood that I was at the door; as she was rushing towards it,
I entered. We embraced each other with that abounding and
impassioned tenderness, which an absence of many months makes so
delicious to those who truly love. Our sighs, our broken
exclamations, the thousand endearing appellations of love,
exchanged in languishing rapture, astonished M. de T----, and
affected him even to tears.

"`I cannot help envying you,' said he, as he begged us to be
seated; `there is no lot, however glorious, that I would hold as
comparable to the possession of a mistress at once so tender and
impassioned.' `Nor would I,' I replied, `give up her love for
universal empire!'

"The remainder of an interview which had been so long and so
ardently desired by me, was of course as tender as the
commencement. Poor Manon related all her adventures, and I told
her mine: we bitterly wept over each other's story. M. de T----
consoled us by his renewed promises to exert himself in our
service. He advised us not to make this, our first interview, of
too long duration, that he might have the less difficulty in
procuring us the same enjoyment again. He at length induced us
to follow his advice. Manon especially could not reconcile
herself to the separation: she made me a hundred times resume my
seat. At one time she held me by my hands, at another by my
coat. `Alas!' she said, `in what an abode do you leave me! Who
will answer for my ever seeing you again?' M. de T---- promised
her that he would often come and see her with me. `As to the
abode,' he said, 'it must no longer be called the Magdalen; it is
Versailles! now that it contains a person who deserves the empire
of all hearts.'

"I made the man who attended a present as I went out, in order
to quicken his zeal and attentions. This fellow had a mind less
rough and vulgar than the generality of his class. He had
witnessed our interview, and was affected by it. The interest he
felt was doubtless increased by the louis d'or I gave him. He
took me aside as we went down into the courtyard. `Sir,' said
he, `if you will only take me into your service, or indemnify me
in any way for the loss of the situation which I fill here, I
think I should not have much difficulty in liberating the
beauteous Manon.'

"I caught readily at the suggestion, and, although at the moment
I was almost in a state of destitution, I gave him promises far
beyond his desires. I considered that it would be at all times
easy to recompense a man of his description. `Be assured, my
friend,' said I to him, `that there is nothing I will not be
ready to do for you, and that your fortune is just as certain as
my own.' I enquired what means he intended to employ. `None
other,' said he, `than merely to open the door of her cell for
her at night, and to conduct her to the street door, where you,
of course, will be to receive her.' I asked whether there was no
danger of her being recognised as she traversed the long
galleries and the courts. He admitted that there was danger, but
that nothing could be done without some slight risk.

"Although I was delighted to find him so determined, I called M.
de T----, and informed him of the project, and of the only
difficulty in the way. He thought it not so easy of execution.
He allowed the possibility of escaping thus: `But if she be
recognised,' continued he, `if she be stopped in the attempt, all
hope will be over with her, perhaps for ever. Besides, you would
be obliged to quit Paris instantly, for you could never evade the
search that would be made for you: they would redouble their
efforts as much on your own account as hers. A single man may
easily escape detection, but in company with a handsome woman, it
would be utterly impossible to remain undiscovered.'

"However sound this reasoning, it could not, in my mind,
outweigh the immediate prospect of restoring Manon to liberty. I
said as much to M. de T----, and trusted that he would excuse my
imprudence and rashness, on the ground of love. I added that it
was already my intention to quit Paris for some neighbouring
village, as I had once before done. We then settled with the
servant that he should carry his project into execution the
following day, and to render our success as certain as he could,
we resolved to carry into the prison men's clothes, in order to
facilitate her escape.

There was a difficulty to be surmounted in carrying them in, but
I had ingenuity enough to meet it. I begged of M. de T---- only
to put on two light waistcoats the next morning, and I undertook
to arrange the rest.

We returned the following day to the Hospital. I took with me
linen, stockings, etc., for Manon, and over my body-coat a
surtout, which concealed the bulk I carried in my pockets. We
remained but a moment in her room. M. de T---- left her one of
his waistcoats; I gave her my short coat, the surtout being
sufficient for me. She found nothing wanting for her complete
equipment but a pair of pantaloons, which in my hurry I had

"The want of so necessary an article might have amused us, if
the embarrassment it caused had been of a less serious kind. I
was in despair at having our whole scheme foiled by a trifling
omission of this nature. However, I soon hit on a remedy, and
determined to make my own exit sans-culotte, leaving that portion
of my dress with Manon. My surtout was long, and I contrived by
the help of a few pins to put myself in a decent condition for
passing the gate.

"The remainder of the day appeared to me of endless length.
When at last night came, we went in a coach to within a few yards
of the Hospital. We were not long waiting, when we saw Manon
make her appearance with her guide. The door of the coach being
opened, they both stepped in without delay. I opened my arms to
receive my adored mistress; she trembled like an aspen leaf. The
coachman asked where he was to drive? `To the end of the world!'
I exclaimed; `to some place where I can never again be separated
from Manon.'

"This burst, which I could not control, was near bringing me
into fresh trouble. The coachman reflected upon what I said, and
when I afterwards told him the name of the street to which I
wished him to drive, he answered that he feared I was about to
implicate him in some bad business; that he saw plainly enough
that the good- looking young man whom I called Manon was a girl
eloping from the Hospital, and that he was little disposed indeed
to ruin himself for love of me.

"Extortion was the source of this scoundrel's delicacy. We were
still too near the Hospital to make any noise. `Silence!' said I
to him, `you shall have a louis d'or for the job': for less than
that he would have helped me to burn the Hospital.

"We arrived at Lescaut's house. As it was late, M. de T----
left us on the way, promising to visit us the next morning. The
servant alone remained.

"I held Manon in such close embrace in my arms, that we occupied
but one place in the coach. She cried for joy, and I could feel
her tears trickling down my cheeks.

"When we were about getting out at Lescaut's, I had a new
difficulty with the coachman, which was attended with the most
unfortunate results. I repented of having promised the fellow a
louis d'or, not only because it was extravagant folly, but for
another stronger reason, that it was at the moment out of my
power to pay him. I called for Lescaut, and he came down to the
door. I whispered to him the cause of my present embarrassment.
Being naturally rough, and not at all in the habit of treating
hackney-coachmen with respect, he answered that I could not be
serious. `A louis!' said he; `twenty blows of a cane would be
the right payment for that rascal!' I entreated him not to
destroy us; when he snatched my cane from my hand, and was about
to lay it on the coachman. The fellow had probably before
experienced the weight of a guardsman's arm, and instantly drove
off, crying out, that I had cheated him, and should hear of him
again. I in vain endeavoured to stop him.

"His flight caused me, of course, the greatest alarm. I had no
doubt that he would immediately give information to the police.
`You have ruined me,' said I to Lescaut; `I shall be no longer
safe at your house; we must go hence at once.' I gave Manon my
arm, and as quickly as possible got out of the dangerous
neighbourhood. Lescaut accompanied us."

The Chevalier des Grieux having occupied more than an hour with
his story, I begged him to give himself a little rest, and
meanwhile to share our supper. He saw, by the attention we paid
him, that we were amused, and promised that we should hear
something of perhaps greater interest in the sequel. When we had
finished supper, he continued in the following words.


. . . How chances mock,
And changes fill the cup of alteration
With divers liquors.


"How inscrutably does Providence connect events! We had hardly
proceeded for five minutes on our way, when a man, whose face I
could not see, recognised Lescaut. He had no doubt been watching
for him near his home, with the horrible intention which he now
unhappily executed. `It IS Lescaut!' said he, snapping a pistol
at his head; `he shall sup tonight with the angels!' He then
instantly disappeared. Lescaut fell, without the least sign of
life. I pressed Manon to fly, for we could be of no use to a
dead man, and I feared being arrested by the police, who would
certainly be soon upon the spot. I turned down the first narrow
street with her and the servant: she was so overpowered by the
scene she had just witnessed, that I could hardly support her.
At last, at the end of the street, I perceived a hackney-coach;
we got into it, but when the coachman asked whither he should
drive, I was scarcely able to answer him. I had no certain
asylum--no confidential friend to whom I could have recourse. I
was almost destitute of money, having but one dollar left in my
purse. Fright and fatigue had so unnerved Manon, that she was
almost fainting at my side. My imagination too was full of the
murder of Lescaut, and I was not without strong apprehensions of
the patrol. What was to be done? I luckily remembered the inn
at Chaillot, where we first went to reside in that village. I
hoped to be not only secure, but to continue there for some time
without being pressed for payment. `Take us to Chaillot,' said I
to the coachman. He refused to drive us so far at that late hour
for less than twelve francs. A new embarrassment! At last we
agreed for half that sum--all that my purse contained.

"I tried to console Manon as we went along, but despair was
rankling in my own heart. I should have destroyed myself a
thousand times over, if I had not felt that I held in my arms all
that could attach me to life: this reflection reconciled me. `I
possess her at least,' said I; `she loves me! she is mine!
Vainly does Tiberge call this a mere phantom of happiness.' I
could, without feeling interest or emotion, see the whole world
besides perish around me. Why? Because I have in it no object
of affection beyond her.

"This sentiment was true; however, while I so lightly esteemed
the good things of the world, I felt that there was no doing
without some little portion of them, were it only to inspire a
more thorough contempt for the remainder. Love is more powerful
than wealth--more attractive than grandeur or fame; but, alas! it
cannot exist without certain artificial aids; and there is
nothing more humiliating to the feelings, of a sensitive lover,
than to find himself, by want of means, reduced to the level of
the most vulgar minds.

"It was eleven o'clock when we arrived at Chaillot. They
received us at the inn as old acquaintances, and expressed no
sort of surprise at seeing Manon in male attire, for it was the
custom in Paris and the environs to adopt all disguises. I took
care to have her served with as much attention as if I had been
in prosperous circumstances. She was ignorant of my poverty, and
I carefully kept her so, being resolved to return alone the
following day to Paris, to seek some cure for this vexatious kind
of malady.

"At supper she appeared pale and thin; I had not observed this
at the Hospital, as the room in which I saw her was badly
lighted. I asked her if the excessive paleness were not caused
by the shock of witnessing her brother's death? She assured me
that, horrified as she naturally was at the event, her paleness
was purely the effect of a three months' absence from me. `You
do love me then devotedly?' I exclaimed.

"`A thousand times more than I can tell!' was her reply.

"`You will never leave me again?' I added.

"`No! never, never!' answered she.

"This assurance was confirmed by so many caresses and vows, that
it appeared impossible she could, to the end of time, forget
them. I have never doubted that she was at that moment sincere.
What motive could she have had for dissembling to such a degree?
But she became afterwards still more volatile than ever, or
rather she was no longer anything, and entirely forgot herself,
when, in poverty and want, she saw other women living in
abundance. I was now on the point of receiving a new proof of
her inconstancy, which threw all that had passed into the shade,
and which led to the strangest adventure that ever happened to a
man of my birth and prospects.

"As I knew her disposition, I hastened the next day to Paris.
The death of her brother, and the necessity of getting linen and
clothes for her, were such good reasons, that I had no occasion
for any further pretext. I left the inn, with the intention, as
I told Manon and the landlord, of going in a hired carriage, but
this was a mere flourish; necessity obliged me to travel on foot:
I walked very fast as far as Cours-la-Reine, where I intended to
rest. A moment of solitude and tranquillity was requisite to
compose myself, and to consider what was to be done in Paris.

"I sat down upon the grass. I plunged into a sea of thoughts
and considerations, which at length resolved themselves into
three principal heads. I had pressing want of an infinite number
of absolute necessaries; I had to seek some mode of at least
raising a hope for the future; and, though last, not least in
importance, I had to gain information, and adopt measures, to
secure Manon's safety and my own. After having exhausted myself
in devising projects upon these three chief points, I was obliged
to put out of view for the moment the two last. We were not ill
sheltered from observation in the inn at Chaillot; and as to
future wants, I thought it would be time enough to think about
them when those of the moment were satisfied.

"The main object now was to replenish my purse. M. de T---- had
once offered me his, but I had an extreme repugnance to mention
the subject to him again. What a degradation to expose one's
misery to a stranger, and to ask for charity: it must be either a
man of low mind who would thus demean himself, and that from a
baseness which must render him insensible to the degradation, or
a humble Christian, from a consciousness of generosity in
himself, which must put him above the sense of shame. I would
have sacrificed half my life to be spared the humiliation.

"`Tiberge,' said I, `kind Tiberge, will he refuse me what he
has it in his power to grant? No, he will assuredly sympathise
in my misery; but he will also torture me with his lectures! One
must endure his reproaches, his exhortations, his threats: I
shall have to purchase his assistance so dearly, that I would
rather make any sacrifice than encounter this distressing scene,
which cannot fail to leave me full of sorrow and remorse. Well,'
thought I again, `all hope must be relinquished, since no other
course presents itself: so far am I from adopting either of
these, that I would sooner shed half my blood than face one of
these evils, or the last drop rather than encounter both. Yes,
the very last drop,' I repeated after a moment's reflection, `I
would sacrifice willingly rather than submit to such base

"`But it is not in reality a question of my existence! Manon's
life and maintenance, her love and her fidelity, are at stake!
What consideration can outweigh that? In her are centred all my
glory, happiness, and future fortune! There are doubtless many
things that I would gladly give up my life to obtain, or to
avoid; but to estimate a thing merely beyond the value of my own
life, is not putting it on a par with that of Manon.' This idea
soon decided me: I went on my way, resolved to go first to
Tiberge, and afterwards to M. de T----.

"On entering Paris I took a hackney-coach, though I had not
wherewithal to pay for it; I calculated on the loan I was going
to solicit. I drove to the Luxembourg, whence I sent word to
Tiberge that I was waiting for him. I had not to stay many
minutes. I told him without hesitation the extremity of my
wants. He asked if the fifty pounds which I had returned to him
would suffice, and he at once went to fetch it with that generous
air, that pleasure in bestowing which `blesseth him that gives,
and him that takes,' and which can only be known to love or to
true friendship.

"Although I had never entertained a doubt of Tiberge's readiness
to grant my request, yet I was surprised at having obtained it on
such easy terms, that is to say, without a word of reprimand for
my impenitence; but I was premature in fancying myself safe from
his reproaches, for when he had counted out the money, and I was
on the point of going away, he begged of me to take a walk with
him in the garden. I had not mentioned Manon's name; he knew
nothing of her escape; so that his lecture was merely upon my own
rash flight from St. Lazare, and upon his apprehensions lest,
instead of profiting by the lessons of morality which I had
received there, I should again relapse into dissipation.

"He told me, that having gone to pay me a visit at St. Lazare,
the day after my escape, he had been astonished beyond expression
at hearing the mode in which I had effected it; that he had
afterwards a conversation with the Superior; that the good Father
had not quite recovered the shock; that he had, however, the
generosity to conceal the real circumstances from the
lieutenant-general of police, and that he had prevented the death
of the porter from becoming known outside the walls; that I had,
therefore, upon that score, no ground for alarm, but that, if I
retained one grain of prudence, I should profit by this happy
turn which Providence had given to my affairs, and begin by
writing to my father, and reconciling myself to his favour; and
finally that, if I would be guided by his advice, I should at
once quit Paris, and return to the bosom of my family.

"I listened to him attentively till he had finished. There was
much in what he said to gratify me. In the first place, I was
delighted to learn that I had nothing to fear on account of St.
Lazare--the streets of Paris at least were again open to me.
Then I rejoiced to find that Tiberge had no suspicion of Manon's
escape, and her return to my arms. I even remarked that he had
not mentioned her name, probably from the idea that, by my
seeming indifference to her, she had become less dear to my
heart. I resolved, if not to return home, at least to write to
my father, as he advised me, and to assure him that I was
disposed to return to my duty, and consult his wishes. My
intention was to urge him to send me money for the purpose of
pursuing my ordinary studies at the University, for I should have
found it difficult to persuade him that I had any inclination to
resume my ecclesiastical habit. I was in truth not at all averse
to what I was now going to promise him. On the contrary, I was
ready to apply myself to some creditable and rational pursuit, so
far as the occupation would be compatible with my love. I
reckoned upon being able to live with my mistress, and at the
same time continuing my studies. I saw no inconsistency in this

"These thoughts were so satisfactory to my mind, that I promised
Tiberge to dispatch a letter by that day's post to my father: in
fact, on leaving him, I went into a scrivener's, and wrote in
such a submissive and dutiful tone, that, on reading over my own
letter, I anticipated the triumph I was going to achieve over my
father's heart.

"Although I had money enough to pay for a hackney-coach after my
interview with Tiberge, I felt a pleasure in walking
independently through the streets to M. de T----'s house. There
was great comfort in this unaccustomed exercise of my liberty, as
to which my friend had assured me I had nothing now to apprehend.
However, it suddenly occurred to me, that he had been only
referring to St. Lazare, and that I had the other affair of the
Hospital on my hands; being implicated, if not as an accomplice,
at all events as a witness. This thought alarmed me so much,
that I slipped down the first narrow street, and called a coach.
I went at once to M. de T----'s, and he laughed at my
apprehensions. I myself thought them ridiculous enough, when he
informed me that there was no more danger from Lescaut's affray,
than from the Hospital adventure. He told me that, from the fear
of their suspecting that he had a hand in Manon's escape, he had
gone that morning to the Hospital and asked to see her,
pretending not to know anything of what had happened; that they
were so far from entertaining the least suspicion of either of
us, that they lost no time in relating the adventure as a piece
of news to him; and that they wondered how so pretty a girl as
Manon Lescaut could have thought of eloping with a servant: that
he replied with seeming indifference, that it by no means
astonished him, for people would do anything for the sake of

"He continued to tell me how he then went to Lescaut's
apartments, in the hope of finding me there with my dear
mistress; that the master of the house, who was a coachmaker,
protested he had seen neither me nor Manon; but that it was no
wonder that we had not appeared there, if our object was to see
Lescaut, for that we must have doubtless heard of his having been
assassinated about the very same time; upon which, he related all
that he knew of the cause and circumstances of the murder.

"About two hours previously, a guardsman of Lescaut's
acquaintance had come to see him, and proposed play. Lescaut had
such a rapid and extravagant run of luck, that in an hour the
young man was minus twelve hundred francs--all the money he had.
Finding himself without a sou, he begged of Lescaut to lend him
half the sum he had lost; and there being some difficulty on this
point, an angry quarrel arose between them. Lescaut had refused
to give him the required satisfaction, and the other swore, on
quitting him, that he would take his life; a threat which he
carried into execution the same night. M. de T---- was kind
enough to add, that he had felt the utmost anxiety on our
account, and that, such as they were, he should gladly continue
to us his services. I at once told him the place of our retreat.
He begged of me to allow him to sup with us.

"As I had nothing more to do than to procure the linen and
clothes for Manon, I told him that we might start almost
immediately, if he would be so good as to wait for me a moment
while I went into one or two shops. I know not whether he
suspected that I made this proposition with the view of calling
his generosity into play, or whether it was by the mere impulse
of a kind heart; but, having consented to start immediately, he
took me to a shopkeeper, who had lately furnished his house. He
there made me select several articles of a much higher price than
I had proposed to myself; and when I was about paying the bill,
he desired the man not to take a sou from me. This he did so
gracefully, that I felt no shame in accepting his present. We
then took the road to Chaillot together, where I arrived much
more easy in mind than when I had left it that morning.

"My return and the polite attentions of M. de T---- dispelled
all Manon's melancholy. `Let us forget our past annoyances, my
dear soul,' said I to her, `and endeavour to live a still happier
life than before. After all, there are worse masters than love:
fate cannot subject, us to as much sorrow as love enables us to
taste of happiness.' Our supper was a true scene of joy.

"In possession of Manon and of twelve hundred and fifty francs,
I was prouder and more contented than the richest voluptuary of
Paris with untold treasures. Wealth should be measured by the
means it affords us of satisfying our desires. There did not
remain to me at this moment a single wish unaccomplished. Even
the future gave me little concern. I felt a hope, amounting
almost to certainty, that my father would allow me the means of
living respectably in Paris, because I had become entitled, on
entering upon my twentieth year, to a share of my mother's
fortune. I did not conceal from Manon what was the extent of my
present wealth; but I added, that it might suffice to support us
until our fortune was bettered, either by the inheritance I have
just alluded to, or by the resources of the hazard-table.


This Passion hath its floods in the very times of weakness,
which are great prosperity, and great adversity; both which
times kindle Love, and make it more fervent.--BACON.

"For several weeks I thus continued to think only of enjoying
the full luxury of my situation; and being restrained, by a sense
of honour, as well as a lurking apprehension of the police, from
renewing my intimacy with my former companions at the hotel of
Transylvania, I began to play in certain coteries less notorious,
where my good luck rendered it unnecessary for me to have
recourse to my former accomplishments. I passed a part of the
afternoon in town, and returned always to supper at Chaillot,
accompanied very often by M. de T----, whose intimacy and
friendship for us daily increased.

"Manon soon found resources against ennui. She became
acquainted with some young ladies, whom the spring brought into
the neighbourhood. They occupied their leisure hours in walking,
and the customary amusements of persons of their sex and age.
Their little gains at cards (always within innocent limits) were
laid out in defraying the expense of a coach, in which they took
an airing occasionally in the Bois de Boulogne; and each night
when I returned, I was sure of finding Manon more beautiful--more
contented--more affectionate than ever.

"There arose, however, certain clouds, which seemed to threaten
the continuance of this blissful tranquillity, but they were soon
dispelled; and Manon's sprightliness made the affair so
excessively comical in its termination, that it is even now
pleasing to recur to it, as a proof of the tenderness as well as
the cheerfulness of her disposition.

"The only servant we had came to me one day, with great
embarrassment, and taking me aside, told me that he had a secret
of the utmost importance to communicate to me. I urged him to
explain himself without reserve. After some hesitation, he gave
me to understand that a foreigner of high rank had apparently
fallen in love with Manon. I felt my blood boil at the
announcement. `Has she shown any penchant for him?' I enquired,
interrupting my informant with more impatience than was
requisite, if I desired to have a full explanation.

"He was alarmed at my excitement; and replied in an undecided
tone, that he had not made sufficiently minute observation to
satisfy me; but that, having noticed for several days together
the regular arrival of the stranger at the Bois de Boulogne,
where, quitting his carriage, he walked by himself in the
cross-avenues, appearing to seek opportunities of meeting Manon,
it had occurred to him to form an acquaintance with the servants,
in order to discover the name of their master; that they spoke of
him as an Italian prince, and that they also suspected he was
upon some adventure of gallantry. He had not been able to learn
anything further, he added, trembling as he spoke, because the
prince, then on the point of leaving the wood, had approached
him, and with the most condescending familiarity asked his name;
upon which, as if he at once knew that he was in our service, he
congratulated him on having, for his mistress, the most
enchanting person upon earth.

"I listened to this recital with the greatest impatience. He
ended with the most awkward excuses, which I attributed to the
premature and imprudent display of my own agitation. In vain I
implored him to continue his history. He protested that he knew
nothing more, and that what he had previously told me, having
only happened the preceding day, he had not had a second
opportunity of seeing the prince's servants. I encouraged him,
not only with praises, but with a substantial recompense; and
without betraying the slightest distrust of Manon, I requested
him, in the mildest manner, to keep strict watch upon all the
foreigner's movements.

"In truth, the effect of his fright was to leave me in a state
of the cruellest suspense. It was possible that she had ordered
him to suppress part of the truth. However, after a little
reflection, I recovered sufficiently from my fears to see the
manner in which I had exposed my weaknesses. I could hardly
consider it a crime in Manon to be loved. Judging from
appearances, it was probable that she was not even aware of her
conquest. `And what kind of life shall I in future lead,'
thought I, `if I am capable of letting jealousy so easily take
possession of my mind?'

"I returned on the following day to Paris, with no other
intention than to hasten the improvement of my fortune, by
playing deeper than ever, in order to be in a condition to quit
Chaillot on the first real occasion for uneasiness. That night I
learned nothing at all calculated to trouble my repose. The
foreigner had, as usual, made his appearance in the Bois de
Boulogne; and venturing, from what had passed the preceding day,
to accost my servant more familiarly, he spoke to him openly of
his passion, but in such terms as not to lead to the slightest
suspicion of Manon's being aware of it. He put a thousand
questions to him, and at last tried to bribe him with large
promises; and taking a letter from his pocket, he in vain
entreated him, with the promise of some louis d'ors, to convey it
to her.

"Two days passed without anything more occurring: the third was
of a different character. I learned on my arrival, later than
usual, from Paris, that Manon, while in the wood, had left her
companions for a moment, and that the foreigner, who had followed
her at a short distance, approached, upon her making him a sign,
and that she handed him a letter, which he took with a transport
of joy. He had only time to express his delight by kissing the
billet-doux, for she was out of sight in an instant. But she
appeared in unusually high spirits the remainder of the day; and
even after her return to our lodgings, her gaiety continued. I
trembled at every word.

"`Are you perfectly sure,' said I, in an agony of fear, to my
servant, `that your eyes have not deceived you?' He called
Heaven to witness the truth of what he had told me.

"I know not to what excess the torments of my mind would have
driven me, if Manon, who heard me come in, had not met me with an
air of impatience, and complained of my delay. Before I had time
to reply, she loaded me with caresses; and when she found we were
alone, she reproached me warmly with the habit I was contracting
of staying out so late. My silence gave her an opportunity of
continuing; and she then said that for the last three weeks I had
never spent one entire day in her society; that she could not
endure such prolonged absence; that she should at least expect me
to give up a day to her from time to time, and that she
particularly wished me to be with, her on the following day from
morning till night.

"`You may be very certain I shall do that,' said I, in rather a
sharp tone. She did not appear to notice my annoyance; she
seemed to me to have more than her usual cheerfulness; and she
described, with infinite pleasantry, the manner in which she had
spent the day.

"`Incomprehensible girl!" said I to myself; `what am I to
expect after such a prelude?' The adventures of my first
separation occurred to me; nevertheless, I fancied I saw in her
cheerfulness, and the affectionate reception she gave me, an air
of truth that perfectly accorded with her professions.

"It was an easy matter at supper to account for the low spirits
which I could not conceal, by attributing them to a loss I had
that day sustained at the gaming-table. I considered it most
fortunate that the idea of my remaining all the next day at
Chaillot was suggested by herself: I should thus have ample time
for deliberation. My presence would prevent any fears for at
least the next day; and if nothing should occur to compel me to
disclose the discovery I had already made, I was determined on
the following day to move my establishment into town, and fix
myself in a quarter where I should have nothing to apprehend from
the interference of princes. This arrangement made me pass the
night more tranquilly, but it by no means put an end to the alarm
I felt at the prospect of a new infidelity.

"When I awoke in the morning, Manon said to me, that although we
were to pass the day at home, she did not at all wish that I
should be less carefully dressed than on other occasions; and
that she had a particular fancy for doing the duties of my
toilette that morning with her own hands. It was an amusement
she often indulged in: but she appeared to take more pains on
this occasion than I had ever observed before. To gratify her, I
was obliged to sit at her toilette table, and try all the
different modes she imagined for dressing my hair. In the course
of the operation, she made me often turn my head round towards
her, and putting both hands upon my shoulders, she would examine
me with most anxious curiosity: then, showing her approbation by
one or two kisses, she would make me resume my position before
the glass, in order to continue her occupation.

"This amatory trifling engaged us till dinner-time. The
pleasure she seemed to derive from it, and her more than usual
gaiety, appeared to me so thoroughly natural, that I found it
impossible any longer to suspect the treason I had previously
conjured up; and I was several times on the point of candidly
opening my mind to her, and throwing off a load that had begun to
weigh heavily upon my heart: but I flattered myself with the hope
that the explanation would every moment come from herself, and I
anticipated the delicious triumph this would afford me.

"We returned to her boudoir. She began again to put my hair in
order, and I humoured all her whims; when they came to say that
the Prince of ---- was below, and wished to see her. The name
alone almost threw me into a rage.

"`What then,' exclaimed I, as I indignantly pushed her from me,
`who?--what prince?'

"She made no answer to my enquiries.

"`Show him upstairs,' said she coolly to the servant; and then
turning towards me, `Dearest love! you whom I so fervently
adore,' she added in the most bewitching tone, `I only ask of you
one moment's patience; one moment, one single moment! I will
love you ten thousand times more than ever: your compliance now
shall never, during my life, be forgotten.'

"Indignation and astonishment deprived me of the power of
utterance. She renewed her entreaties, and I could not find
adequate expressions to convey my feelings of anger and contempt.
But hearing the door of the ante-chamber open, she grasped with
one hand my locks, which were floating over my shoulders, while
she took her toilette mirror in the other, and with all her
strength led me in this manner to the door of the boudoir, which
she opened with her knee, and presented to the foreigner, who had
been prevented by the noise he heard inside from advancing beyond
the middle of the ante-chamber, a spectacle that must have indeed
amazed him. I saw a man extremely well dressed, but with a
particularly ill-favoured countenance.

"Notwithstanding his embarrassment, he made her a profound bow.
Manon gave him no time for speech-making; she held up the mirror
before him: `Look, sir,' said she to him, `observe yourself
minutely, and I only ask you then to do me justice. You wish me
to love you: this is the man whom I love, and whom I have sworn
to love during my whole life: make the comparison yourself. If
you think you can rival him in my affections, tell me at least
upon what pretensions; for I solemnly declare to you, that, in
the estimation of your most obedient humble servant, all the
princes in Italy are not worth a single one of the hairs I now
hold in my hand.'

"During this whimsical harangue, which she had apparently
prepared beforehand, I tried in vain to disengage myself, and
feeling compassion for a person of such consideration, I was
desirous, by my politeness at least, of making some reparation
for this little outrage. But recovering his self-possession with
the ease of a man accustomed to the world, he put an end to my
feelings of pity by his reply, which was, in my opinion, rude

"`Young lady! young lady!' said he to her, with a sardonic
smile, 'my eyes in truth are opened, and I perceive that you are
much less of a novice than I had pictured to myself.'

"He immediately retired without looking at her again, muttering
to himself that the French women were quite as bad as those of
Italy. I felt little desire, on this occasion, to change his
opinion of the fair sex.

"Manon let go my hand, threw herself into an armchair, and made
the room resound with her shouts of laughter. I candidly confess
that I was touched most sensibly by this unexpected proof of her
affection, and by the sacrifice of her own interest which I had
just witnessed, and which she could only have been induced to
make by her excessive love for me. Still, however, I could not
help thinking she had gone rather too far. I reproached her with
what I called her indiscretion. She told me that my rival, after
having besieged her for several days in the Bois de Boulogne, and
having made her comprehend his object by signs and grimaces, had
actually made an open declaration of love; informing her at the
same time of his name and all his titles, by means of a letter,
which he had sent through the hands of the coachman who drove her
and her companions; that he had promised her, on the other side
of the Alps, a brilliant fortune and eternal adoration; that she
returned to Chaillot, with the intention of relating to me the
whole adventure, but that, fancying it might be made a source of
amusement to us, she could not help gratifying her whim; that she
accordingly invited the Italian prince, by a flattering note, to
pay her a visit; and that it had afforded her equal delight to
make me an accomplice, without giving me the least suspicion of
her plan. I said not a word of the information I had received
through another channel; and the intoxication of triumphant love
made me applaud all she had done.


'Twas ever thus;--from childhood's hour
I've seen my fondest hopes decay;--
I never loved a tree or flower,
But it was sure to fade away;
I never nursed a dear Gazelle,
To glad me with its dark-blue eye,
But, when it came to know me well,
And love me, it was sure to die.


"During my life I have remarked that fate has invariably chosen
for the time of its severest visitations, those moments when my
fortune seemed established on the firmest basis. In the
friendship of M. de T----, and the tender affections of Manon, I
imagined myself so thoroughly happy, that I could not harbour the
slightest apprehension of any new misfortune: there was one,
nevertheless, at this very period impending, which reduced me to
the state in which you beheld me at Passy, and which eventually
brought in its train miseries of so deplorable a nature, that you
will have difficulty in believing the simple recital that follows.

"One evening, when M. de T---- remained to sup with us, we heard
the sound of a carriage stopping at the door of the inn.
Curiosity tempted us to see who it was that arrived at this hour.
They told us it was young G---- M----, the son of our most
vindictive enemy, of that debauched old sinner who had
incarcerated me in St. Lazare, and Manon in the Hospital. His
name made the blood mount to my cheeks. `It is Providence that
has led him here,' said I to M. de T----, that I may punish him
for the cowardly baseness of his father. He shall not escape
without our measuring swords at least.' M. de T----, who knew
him, and was even one of his most intimate friends, tried to
moderate my feelings of anger towards him. He assured me that he
was a most amiable young man, and so little capable of
countenancing his father's conduct, that I could not be many
minutes in his society without feeling esteem and affection for
him. After saying many more things in his praise, he begged my
permission to invite him to come and sit in our apartment, as
well as to share the remainder of our supper. As to the
objection of Manon being exposed by this proceeding to any
danger, he pledged his honour and good faith, that when once the
young man became acquainted with us, we should find in him a most
zealous defender. After such an assurance, I could offer no
further opposition.

"M. de T---- did not introduce him without delaying a few
moments outside, to let him know who we were. He certainly came
in with an air that prepossessed us in his favour: he shook hands
with me; we sat down; he admired Manon; he appeared pleased with
me, and with everything that belonged to us; and he ate with an
appetite that did abundant honour to our hospitality.

"When the table was cleared, our conversation became more
serious. He hung down his head while he spoke of his father's
conduct towards us. He made, on his own part, the most submissive
excuses. `I say the less upon the subject,' said he, `because I
do not wish to recall a circumstance that fills me with grief and
shame.' If he were sincere in the beginning, he became much more
so in the end, for the conversation had not lasted half an hour,
when I perceived that Manon's charms had made a visible
impression upon him. His looks and his manner became by degrees
more tender. He, however, allowed no expression to escape him;
but, without even the aid of jealousy, I had had experience
enough in love affairs to discern what was passing.

"He remained with us till a late hour in the night, and before
he took his leave, congratulated himself on having made our
acquaintance, and begged permission to call and renew the offer
of his services. He went off next morning with M. de T----, who
accepted the offer of a seat in his carriage.

"I felt, as I before said, not the slightest symptom of jealousy
I had a more foolish confidence than ever in Manon's vows. This
dear creature had so absolute a dominion over my whole soul and
affections, that I could give place to no other sentiment towards
her than that of admiration and love. Far from considering it a
crime that she should have pleased young G---- M----, I was
gratified by the effect of her charms, and experienced only a
feeling of pride in being loved by a girl whom the whole world
found so enchanting. I did not even deem it worth while to
mention my suspicions to her. We were for some days occupied in
arranging her new wardrobe, and in considering whether we might
venture to the theatre without the risk of being recognised. M.
de T---- came again to see us before the end of the week, and we
consulted him upon this point. He saw clearly that the way to
please Manon was to say yes: we resolved to go all together that
same evening.

"We were not able, however, to carry this intention into effect;
for, having taken me aside, `I have been in the greatest
embarrassment,' said he to me, `since I saw you, and that is the
cause of my visiting you today. G---- M---- is in love with your
mistress: he told me so in confidence; I am his intimate friend,
and disposed to do him any service in my power; but I am not less
devoted to you; his designs appeared to me unjustifiable, and I
expressed my disapprobation of them; I should not have divulged
his secret, if he had only intended to use fair and ordinary
means for gaining Manon's affections; but he is aware of her
capricious disposition; he has learned, God knows how, that her
ruling passion is for affluence and pleasure; and, as he is
already in possession of a considerable fortune, he declared his
intention of tempting her at once with a present of great value,
and the offer of an annuity of six thousand francs; if I had in
all other points considered you both in an equal light, I should
have had perhaps to do more violence to my feelings in betraying
him: but a sense of justice as well as of friendship was on your
side, and the more so from having been myself the imprudent,
though unconscious, cause of his passion in introducing him here.
I feel it my duty therefore to avert any evil consequences from
the mischief I have inadvertently caused.

"I thanked M. de T---- for rendering me so important a service,
and confessed to him, in a like spirit of confidence, that
Manon's disposition was precisely what G---- M---- had imagined;
that is to say, that she was incapable of enduring even the
thought of poverty. `However,' said I to him, `when it is a mere
question of more or less, I do not believe that she would give me
up for any other person; I can afford to let her want for
nothing, and I have from day to day reason to hope that my
fortune will improve; I only dread one thing,' continued I,
`which is, that G---- M---- may take unfair advantage of the
knowledge he has of our place of residence, and bring us into
trouble by disclosing it.'

"M. de T---- assured me that I might be perfectly easy upon that
head; that G---- M---- might be capable of a silly passion, but
not of an act of baseness; that if he ever could be villain
enough for such a thing, he, de T----, would be the first to
punish him, and by that means make reparation for the mischief he
had occasioned. `I feel grateful for what you say,' said I, `but
the mischief will have been all done, and the remedy even seems
doubtful; the wisest plan therefore will be to quit Chaillot, and
go to reside elsewhere.' `Very true,' said M. de T----, `but you
will not be able to do it quickly enough, for G---- M---- is to
be here at noon; he told me so yesterday, and it was that
intelligence that made me come so early this morning to inform
you of his intentions. You may expect him every moment."

"The urgency of the occasion made me view this matter in a more
serious light. As it seemed to me impossible to escape the visit
of G---- M----, and perhaps equally so to prevent him from making
his declaration to Manon, I resolved to tell her beforehand of
the designs of my new rival. I fancied that when she knew I was
aware of the offers that would be made to her, and made probably
in my presence, she would be the more likely to reject them. I
told M. de T---- of my intention, and he observed that he thought
it a matter of extreme delicacy. `I admit it,' said I, `but no
man ever had more reason for confiding in a mistress, than I have
for relying on the affection of mine. The only thing that could
possibly for a moment blind her, is the splendour of his offers;
no doubt she loves her ease, but she loves me also; and in my
present circumstances, I cannot believe that she would abandon me
for the son of the man who had incarcerated her in the Magdalen.'
In fine, I persisted in my intentions, and taking Manon aside, I
candidly told her what I had learned.

"She thanked me for the good opinion I entertained of her, and
promised to receive G---- M----'s offers in a way that should
prevent a repetition of them. `No,' said I, `you must not
irritate him by incivility: he has it in his power to injure us.
But you know well enough, you little rogue,' continued I,
smiling, `how to rid yourself of a disagreeable or useless
lover!' After a moment's pause she said: `I have just thought
of an admirable plan, and I certainly have a fertile invention.
G---- M---- is the son of our bitterest enemy: we must avenge
ourselves on the father, not through the son's person, but
through his purse. My plan is to listen to his proposals, accept
his presents, and then laugh at him.'

"`The project is not a bad one,' said I to her; `but you
forget, my dear child, that it is precisely the same course that
conducted us formerly to the penitentiary.' I represented to her
the danger of such an enterprise; she replied, that the only
thing necessary was to take our measures with caution, and she
found an answer to every objection I started. `Show me the lover
who does not blindly humour every whim of an adored mistress, and
I will then allow that I was wrong in yielding so easily on this
occasion.' The resolution was taken to make a dupe of G----M----,
and by an unforeseen and unlucky turn of fortune, I became
the victim myself.

"About eleven o'clock his carriage drove up to the door. He
made the most complaisant and refined speeches upon the liberty
he had taken of coming to dine with us uninvited. He was not
surprised at meeting M. de T----, who had the night before
promised to meet him there, and who had, under some pretext or
other, refused a seat in his carriage. Although there was not a
single person in the party who was not at heart meditating
treachery, we all sat down with an air of mutual confidence and
friendship. G---- M---- easily found an opportunity of declaring
his sentiments to Manon. I did not wish to annoy him by
appearing vigilant, so I left the room purposely for several

"I perceived on my return that he had not had to encounter any
very discouraging austerity on Manon's part, for he was in the
best possible spirits. I affected good humour also. He was
laughing in his mind at my simplicity, while I was not less
diverted by his own. During the whole evening we were thus
supplying to each other an inexhaustible fund of amusement. I
contrived, before his departure, to let him have Manon for
another moment to himself; so that he had reason to applaud my
complaisance, as well as the hospitable reception I had given

"As soon as he got into his carriage with M. de T----, Manon ran
towards me with extended arms, and embraced me; laughing all the
while immoderately. She repeated all his speeches and proposals,
without altering a word. This was the substance: He of course
adored her; and wished to share with her a large fortune of which
he was already in possession, without counting what he was to
inherit at his father's death. She should be sole mistress of
his heart and fortune; and as an immediate token of his
liberality, he was ready at once to supply her with an equipage,
a furnished house, a lady's maid, three footmen, and a man-cook.

"`There is indeed a son,' said I, `very different from his father!
But tell me truly, now, does not such an offer tempt you?'
`Me!' she replied, adapting to the idea two verses from Racine--

Moi! vous me soupconnez de cette perfidie?
Moi! je pourrais souffrir un visage odieux,
Qui rappelle toujours l'Hopital a mes yeux?

`No I' replied I, continuing the parody--

J'aurais peine a penser que l'Hopital, madame,
Fut un trait dont l'amour l'eut grave dans votre ame.

`But it assuredly is a temptation--a furnished house, a lady's
maid, a cook, a carriage, and three servants--gallantry can offer
but few more seductive temptations.'

"She protested that her heart was entirely mine, and that it was
for the future only open to the impressions I chose to make upon
it. `I look upon his promises,' said she, `as an instrument for
revenge, rather than as a mark of love.' I asked her if she
thought of accepting the hotel and the carriage. She replied
that his money was all she wanted.

The difficulty was, how to obtain the one without the other; we
resolved to wait for a detailed explanation of the whole project
in a letter which G---- M---- promised to write to her, and which
in fact she received next morning by a servant out of livery,
who, very cleverly, contrived an opportunity of speaking to her

She told him to wait for an answer, and immediately brought the
letter to me: we opened it together.

"Passing over the usual commonplace expressions of tenderness,
it gave a particular detail of my rival's promises. There were
no limits to the expense. He engaged to pay her down ten
thousand francs on her taking possession of the hotel, and to
supply her expenditure in such a way as that she should never
have less than that sum at her command. The appointed day for
her entering into possession was close at hand. He only required
two days for all his preparations, and he mentioned the name of
the street and the hotel, where he promised to be in waiting for
her in the afternoon of the second day, if she could manage to
escape my vigilance. That was the only point upon which he
begged of her to relieve his uneasiness; he seemed to be quite
satisfied upon every other: but he added that, if she apprehended

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest